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The Success of the Left in Latin America

Untainted Parties, Market Reforms, and Voting Behavior

Rosario Queirolo

Publication Year: 2013

Why, since the beginning of the twenty-first century, have so many Latin American countries elected governments identifying themselves with the ideological Left? In The Success of the Left in Latin America: Untainted Parties, Market Reforms, and Voting Behavior, Rosario Queirolo argues that the “pink tide” that swept across Latin America beginning in the late 1990s—with the election of a growing number of leftist political candidates to public office—was caused by the intent of voters to punish political parties unable to improve the economic well-being of their electorates. She argues that Latin Americans vote based on performance, ousting those whom they perceive as responsible for economic downturns, and ushering into power those in the “untainted opposition,” which has been the Left in most Latin American countries. Queirolo argues that the effects of neoliberal economic reforms did not produce more votes for political parties on the Left. Rather, the key variable is unemployment. Left-leaning parties in Latin America increase their electoral chances when unemployment is high. In addition to explaining recent electoral successes of leftist parties, The Success of the Left in Latin America also undermines a dominant scholarly view of Latin Americans as random and unpredictable voters by showing how the electorate at the polls holds politicians accountable.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

...5.3. Predicted Probabilities of Voting for Leftist Parties in 20045.4. Predicted Probabilities of Voting for Leftist Parties in 2004A.1. Political Parties Unclassified in the Left-Right Dimension,...


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pp. 14-15

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xviii

Why, since the beginning of the twenty-first century, haveso many Latin American countries elected governmentsthat identify themselves with the ideological Left? Thisis a question for which journalists, political analysts, and political scien-tists have sought explanations. The most common ones suggest this shiftis a backlash against the neoliberal economic model implemented in the1980s and 1990s. Others have pointed out that the primary factor is a...

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pp. 1-16

Since the final years of the twentieth century, many LatinAmerican countries have elected governments that identi -fied themselves with the ideological Left. In 1999 HugoCh?vez, a former participant in a plot to overthrow the government, waselected president of Venezuela after campaigning against market-orientedreforms and promising to upend the old social order and improve the livesof the poor. Brazil also veered toward the Left with the victory of the Par-...

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Chapter 1: Latin American Ideological Cycles in the Postwar Era

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pp. 17-46

Disappointment is the universal modern malady. It is also a basic spring ofpolitical change. People can never be fulfilled for long either in the publicor in the private sphere. We try one, then the other, and frustration compels achange in course. Moreover, however e?ective a particular course may be inmeeting one set of troubles, it generally falters and fails when new troubles...

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Chapter 2: Economic and Political Conditions That Benefit Leftist Parties in Latin America

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pp. 47-66

Are leftist parties the beneficiaries of the failure of market-oriented economic reforms in Latin America? As shownin chapter 1, there is academic consensus that the neolib-eral economic reforms implemented in Latin America after the debt crisisof the 1980s have largely failed to produce sustainable economic growthand employment. As a result, presidents such as Evo Morales and HugoCh?vez who campaigned against the neoliberal model may have bene -...

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Chapter 3: Micro Explanations for Voting Left in Latin America

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pp. 67-82

Latin American voting behavior is usually understood as beinghighly volatile and unpredictable due to the lack of strongparty and ideological identifications. Latin Americans seemmainly to base their votes on short-term factors such as economic con-ditions (Roberts and Wibbels 1999; Cant?n and Jorrat 2002) and can-didate image (Echegaray 2005; Weyland 2003). It is in this context thatrecent victories of leftist parties are puzzling. If ideology and party iden-...

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Chapter 4: Latin Americans Are Voting Left

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pp. 83-100

Methodologically, an ideal strategy for investigating whyLatin Americans are voting for leftist political partieswould be to conduct one public opinion poll for everyelection held in each Latin American country from 1980 to 2004. More-over, all surveys would include the same variables to test all the theoriesproposed in the previous chapter. But survey data for Latin America, aswell as many other regions of the world, are far from ideal. A vast ma-...

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Chapter 5: The Reasons for Voting Left

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pp. 101-146

The relevance of understanding what might have caused theso-called leftist tide is twofold. First, the prevalent imageof Latin American voters as highly susceptible to clientel -ism, vote buying, and irrational behaviors does not correspond to a waveof any kind. It is simply not possible to think that the electorates of somany countries in the region had elected left-of-center governments ran-domly. In other words, unpredictable voters could not have generated an...

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Chapter 6: The Search for Untainted Parties

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pp. 147-156

This book examines the impact of neoliberal economic re-forms implemented in Latin America during the 1980sand 1990s on the shift to the Left. In particular, it seeks toanswer three concrete research questions: (a) is the success of leftist par-ties in Latin America something new and general in the region? (b) is ittrue that market-oriented economic reforms are behind the leftist tideor, regardless of those policies, that certain economic and political con-...

Appendix 1

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pp. 157-162

Appendix 2

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pp. 163-170


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pp. 171-180


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pp. 181-196


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pp. 197-205

About the Author, Back Cover

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pp. 206-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780268090500
E-ISBN-10: 0268090505
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268039790
Print-ISBN-10: 0268039798

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 867717762
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Success of the Left in Latin America

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Unemployment -- Political aspects -- Latin America.
  • Latin America -- Economic conditions -- 21st century.
  • Political culture -- Latin America.
  • Political parties -- Latin America.
  • Socialism -- Latin America.
  • Right and left (Political science) -- Latin America.
  • Liberalism -- Latin America.
  • Latin America -- Politics and government -- 21st century.
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